Thoughts

Tips and Tricks for your kitchen

To stabilize and sweeten your whipped cream add powdered sugar.  It dissolves instantly and the little bit of cornstarch it contains will stabilize your whipped cream, so it can be made ahead of time and it won’t deflate.  Start by whipping the cream into soft peaks, then beat in 2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar for every cup of cream.  (Tip from Bon Appetit Magazine)

To clean your iron skillet without losing its seasoning, add a splash of water to a teaspoon of course salt.  Use paper towel to wipe off food! (HGTV magazine)

To clean your nasty cookie sheets, sprinkle baking soda on the sheet, follow it up with some hydrogen peroxide and then sprinkle more baking soda on top. Let it sit for as long as two hours, then wipe it all away with a rag or coarse sponge. (Tip from Food & Wine)

Keep your crudites fresh for up to 12 hours:  cover everything with damp paper towels, then wrap the platter in plastic wrap and store in fridge until ready to serve. (Real Simple magazine)

Eggshells are excellent natural seed starters.  Fill the empty shell with soil and seeds and when the plant sprouts, plant the shell, which becomes compost.  (Real Simple magazine)

If you have overbaked your cake layers, make a simple syrup of 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 1 teaspoon vanilla; boil for 3 to 5 minutes, then brush the cake layers with syrup on both sides until they are “revived.”  (Paula Deen)

Use lemon or lime juice as a marinade to tenderize chicken. (Paula Deen)

Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to beef stews to tenderize the meat.

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Recipe

Mixing it up

The other night I found myself with all of the makings for tacos, except for a packet of taco seasoning.  Ugh!  No way was I going back to the grocery store for one ingredient.  I searched the web, and found this delicious alternative…and the plus side?  Yep, I had all of the ingredients right in my spice cupboard.  I decided to look up other spice mixes that I can keep on hand to jazz up dinners and found some other fine ones.  Try one tonight!

Taco Seasoning Mix   Taco Seasoning Mix Zaar

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons instant onion, Minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper, Crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin, Ground

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and blend well.
  2. Spoon mixture onto a 6-inch square of aluminum foil and fold to make airtight. Label as Taco Seasoning Mix.
  3. Store in a cool, dry place and use within 6 months.
  4. Using the above recipe as a guide you can increase the amounts to make any number of packages.
  5. Taco Filling: Brown 1 lb lean ground beef in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; drain the excess grease. Add 1/2 cup water and the seasoning mix.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Daddy’s Hot Chocolate Mixtumblr_nu02ji4efs1s8fz55o1_500

  • 30 ounces Nestles Quik
  • 11 ounces coffee creamer
  • 16 ounces powdered sugar
  • 25 ounces powdered milk Cafe1 Mix all this together.

2 Store in container.

3 When ready to use fill mug or cup with half mix and then fill with hot water.

 

 

CAFE MOCHA MIX

12  cup instant espresso instant coffee granules or 12 cup instant coffee granules

14  cup unsweetened cocoa

14  cup non-dairy coffee creamer

6  tablespoons powdered sugar

In small bowl, comine all ingredients, mix well. Store in airtight container. To serve, spoon 1-2 tablespoons mix into cup. Add 3/4 cup boiling water; stir to dissolve.

Hickory · Lincolnton · Mooresville · Myrtle Beach · Restaurants

The Best of Restaurants: Soups

Soups are a wonderful judge of a cook.  I love a restaurant that serves a homemade soup packed with flavor.  Here are some of the best I’ve tried.

Clam Chowder from Fresh Chef in Mooresville.  Creamy and clearly made with love.  The best clam chowder I’ve ever eaten.

Lobster Bisque at Fourk in Hickory, NC

Broccoli Cheese Soup from Croissants Bakery in Myrtle Beach.  Clearly homemade, creamy and cheesy.

Chicken Salad Croissant, Broccoli Cheddar Soup & Ambrosia Salad

Tomato Basil Soup from Fatz in Lincolnton, NC

Whiskey Chicken Gumbo at Citrus Diner in Denver, NC

Charlotte · Cornelius · Hickory · Mooresville · Uncategorized

Best of Restaurants: Italian

Is there anything more comforting that good Italian food?  So many offerings, but so few get it right.  These do.

Pollo Rosa Maria at Carrabba’s in Hickory (I know it’s a chain, but it is awesome!)

Veal Ossubuco from Fiamma’s in Charlotte

Parmesan Chicken from Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails in Cornelius, NC

Pollo Florentine at Caruso’s in Mooresville

Charlotte · Denver · Gastonia · Huntersville · Uncategorized

Best of Restaurants: Mexican Food

Mexican food is my all time favorite.  It’s my desserted island food, my last meal food and my go-to when working late.  Here are the best dishes I’ve found.

Shredded Beef Chimichanga at Margaritas in Denver, NC

Quesadilla Mexicana at La Unica in Huntersville, NC

Tableside Guacamole at Paco’s Tacos in Charlotte, NC

Pollo Loco at El Patron in Gastonia, NC

 

Charlotte · Hickory · Lincolnton · Myrtle Beach · Restaurants

Best of Restaurants: Cocktails

I’m not a big drinker, I’ll normally have one cocktail when I go out with friends for dinner.  So, if I say something’s good, you can take it to the bank.

Bourbon Peach Smash at Crafted Southern Speakeasy in Lincolnton, NC

 

Bloody Beast at Standard Oyster Company in Hickory

L’eveilleur from Aix en Provence in Charlotte

Watermelon Margarita from Margaritaville in Myrtle Beach

Watermelon Margarita

D.S.L. from Aria Tuscan Grill